Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Incentives and Viral Marketing

Eric Kintz writes about the dynamics of viral marketing, which he defines as focusing "on leveraging existing social networks by encouraging customers to share product information with their friends."

The observation that stood out to me was:
The probability of viral infection decreases with repeated interaction Providing excessive incentives for customers to recommend actually weakens the credibility of those links. The probability of purchasing a product increases with the number of recommendations received, but quickly saturates to a constant and relatively low probability.
The strength of viral marketing is its credibility. Traditional advertising has lost its credibility. But if you beat people over the head with viral marketing - begging or badgering people to spread the word about your product - it loses credibility, too.

You can help foster word of mouth in two ways:
  1. Create communication channels such as online forums, blogs, etc.
  2. Incorporate symbolic focus in the key messages you use to market your product.
The most credible word of mouth stems from natural excitement of customers, not badgering. Facilitate it instead of forcing it.

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